We are what we eat. But does the food we consume play a role in our brain function? Foods have been known to affect moods, performance and energy levels. It has also been seen that foods can go a long way in perking brain activity, from improving memory to even prevent brain aging. There are a number of easily available foods that enhance brain functioning and provide optimum brain health. Turmeric, sage, walnuts and wild salmon are among the notable brain foods.
Remember to maintain a regimen of physical exercise, healthy drinks and snacks everyday to achieve optimal brain health. Have a generous helping of fruits and vegetables, adequate protein, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates, water and supplements. Remember to keep away from saturated fat, alcohol, smoking and other foods that are detrimental to brain health and functioning.
Wild salmon is proven to be an excellent choice not only for brain health but also for a number of other health benefits. It is a good source of essential fatty acids such as Omega 3 fatty acid, which is touted as one of the most beneficial for brain health. It has low levels of unhealthy saturated fatand contaminants.
It is good for your mood, your arteries and helps prevent brain degenerative diseases. However, make sure you get natural salmon and not processed artificial salmon that is colored to make it look more appealing.
Cacao beans in their purest, most naturally available form are good for the brain. Processed chocolate is not the best source as it is over refined and actually has very low levels of the cacao bean. Dark chocolate has a much higher level of cacao content although not as much as pure cacao powder. Cacao contains antioxidants that destroy free radicals, which damage healthy tissues and cells in the body. It boosts cognitive functioning and makes you feel good due to the Theobromine content.
Soy milk that is unsweetened and organic gives you a good helping of protein and also enhances your brain health. Cinnamon also has nutrients good for improving your brain functioning.
Matcha or stone ground green tea powder has the complete goodness of green tea. By consuming ground green tea powder, you are consuming the green tea leaves as well and gaining the whole benefit of its antioxidant and vitamin and mineral content. Green tea that comes in bags or as leaves do not offer the maximum benefit you can extract from consuming it.
It is calming and helps relieve stress. It keeps you fit, protects you from diseases such as cancer, aids concentration ability and has anti-aging properties. Choose a high quality stone ground matcha and not brands with artificial coloring.
Acai berries and blueberries are rich sources of antioxidants and contain the all important ingredient for optimum brain health, the Omega 3 fatty acid. Fresh, whole acai berries contain the complete goodness of the fruit although they very often need to be processed to be preserved. Eat blueberries and acai berries everyday if they are available.
Coffee is a rich source of antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It helps slow down and prevent diseases such as Alzheimer's and dementia which slowly depletes the brains capacity to function adequately. As with the other food items, coffee too is best consumed in its unprocessed, natural form sans cream, sugar or artificial sweeteners. As with all the other brain healthy foods, this too must be consumed regularly over an extended period of time to help combat memory loss and keep your cognitive abilities intact even as you grow older.
Egg yolks, asparagus, small quantities of red wine, herbs such as rosemary and tomatoes also are good brain foods with a host of other health benefits. Tofu is good for verbal and non verbal memory and its antioxidants help protect the brain and build tissues.
Brain Food Snacks
- Prepare a blend of cacao beans, soy milk and a dash of cinnamon for added flavor to make the perfect brain health drink.
- A tofu health drink containing fat free soy milk, a handful of raspberries, a banana and four tablespoons of orange juice concentrate would make a tasty and nutritious brain snack.
- Munch on apricots, apples, pears and dates as they contain iron which helps provide the brain with a steady oxygen flow to keep it active. Raisins and dried cherries are also a good choice.
- Unsalted dry roasted peanuts make a good brain snack.
- A healthy amount of carbohydrate is also essential so stock up on cereals as well.
- Soak a couple of walnuts in water overnight with a sprinkling of sea salt. Drain the water in the morning and add cinnamon powder and your snack is ready to eat!
- Have a bowl of bran for breakfast or granola cereal with yogurt and an apple for a mid morning snack.
- A low fat cheese sandwich is a good option too. Vegetable omelets, French toast with a glass of orange juice, scrambled eggs and juice, and peanut butter sandwiches make good breakfast choices.
Brain Food Recipes
A blueberry smoothie can be made in the following way. You will need half a cup of blueberries, half a cup of blueberry yoghurt, half a banana and half a cup of ice. Blend all the ingredients except the blueberries and finally add the blueberries on top. You can add a tablespoon of honey for added taste.
A brain healthy salad can be made with the following ingredients - baby greens, spinach, broccoli sprouts, diced red onion, a blend of blueberries, cherries and cranberries, crushed or chopped walnuts, small pieces of low fat cheese, extra virgin olive oil and a few small slices of lemon. Mix the baby greens and spinach, sprinkle nuts in moderation, add plenty of sprouts and add a bit of cheese and the blend of berries. Add a dash of lemon juice in the end and dress it with olive oil. Your brain snack is ready in a matter of minutes!